Teleprospecting at Christmas

This year Christmas is in the dead smack middle of the week and so is the New Year.  On Wednesday, December 25th and Wednesday, January 1st, most corporate offices will be closed for the Holidays.  Many prospects will be in a Holiday stupor days before these holidays begin.  So what is a Teleprospector to do?

As a 20 year veteran of inside sales and Teleprospecting management, I highly recommend that companies give their Teleprospecting teams a well-deserved break from phone work, starting December 23rd through January 3rd. If you don’t have a great sales funnel from leads, you won’t get one at the end of the year.  If you have a very successful Teleprospecting team, who consistently generates a slew of SQLs each month, the leads will sit, untended by sales, because the sales team will be focused on bringing in end-of-year deals.  And in general, it will be more difficult to get prospects on the phone, as they too are trying to close deals, close books and shop (online from their desks) for gifts.

So, what should a Manager do with the team during the period between Christmas and New Year’s Day?  Here is what I recommend: train, refresh, plan and cleanse:

Train: This is a great time to train teams on sales methodologies, call strategies, new products and new productivity tools. Teleprospectors make over 13000 dials per year (260 work days * 50 dials per day).  During all this dialing, skills can take a beating.  Use the 6-8 days around the holiday to do role plays, learn new sales methodologies and up the team’s game.  You may also consider running a “demo” day, where team members learn how to demo your solution.  This is a great way to get the team to grasp what your solution is and how it helps your clients.

Refresh: Use the Holiday down time to refresh the team on your corporate and product message. Over time messaging can get sloppy. If you can, bring in your product marketing expert to run a mini-training to review messaging, updates to your solution and customer stories.

Plan: To ensure that the year starts out right and that your Teleprospectors will meet outlined goals, have them work on their GOSPA or Success plan for the coming year during the Holiday period.  Your team will have several days to think about the goals, objectives, strategies, plans and activities which they will implement to meet next year’s quotas and Key Performance Indicators.

Cleanse:  The holiday period is the perfect time to cleanse the database.  Contacts and companies change a lot during a 365-day period.  Which companies and contacts are still valid?  Who has moved on to a new company?  Which of your prospect companies have been acquired? Which companies should the team target to call over the next few months?  Which leads should go back to marketing for nurture? I advocate that companies do a regular database cleanse and this should be the last cleanse for the year.  During this period, Teleprospectors will have time to research companies and create their list of “call” tasks that will help them to kick-start the New Year.

Making Teleprospecting calls during the holidays can be frustrating.  Your prospects will, for the most part, be in “Holiday” mode.  It will be tough to get people on the phone or to engage them during this time.  Leads that are generated during this period will probably sit for 2 weeks or longer and will need to be re-qualified.

Teleprospecting during major Holidays can be frustrating.  Give your team a well-deserved break from the telephone this Holiday season.  Train, refresh, plan and clean.  Come January 6th, your team will be ready to pick up the phones.

Keeping Your Team Motivated

A few weeks after school started this year, my daughter informed me that she was done with school.  She is a straight-A student and a sophomore at a private Catholic high school, and just 3 years shy of completing high school. She has a lot of time remaining before she graduates.   I was very worried and concerned.  After many conversations, I found out that she wanted to have more fun and more respect from her elders.  I took this information to heart and we made a plan.  She is now happier and her motivation has returned.

I believe that motivation has to come from within. What should Corporations do to ensure that their employees remain motivated, day-after-day/week/month and year?  Here are 3 steps your company can take to keep your team motivated and focused:

  1. Survey your employees to get a sense of what gives them satisfaction and a feeling of self-worth.  These surveys should be anonymous.  In the survey ask your employees what they need from the company to feel like they are making a contribution to the company, their families and their communities.  In addition, the survey should ask the following:
    1. Find out if they feel respected and appreciated by the company and the management team.  Ask them to explain the “what’s and how’s and ways” they feel respected and appreciated.  Perhaps they would like more responsibility or a greater say in how they perform their duties.  Maybe the team feels disrespected, which may point to a Manager who may need to take classes in managing people.
    2. Ask your employees if they believe they are working too many hours or feel compelled to work during evening and weekends to get caught up on their work.
    3. Ask if your company has too many or too few meetings.  Either of these choices can lead to a lack of productivity and interest.
    4. Once you have compiled the survey results, review the issues and determine how to address them in the short and long run.  Create a “task-force” to brainstorm on the issues and to make recommendations to improve the situation.  Be prepared to implement the recommendations in a timely manner.  Create a timeline for the roll-out of these recommendations.
    5. Share the survey results, task-force recommendations and roll-out plan with your employees.

The answers may be as simple as providing:

  • Employee training on subjects such as how to get organized, tools they use or time management.
  • Team off-sites, a few times a year.  These should be fun and engaging for your employees.
  • Opportunities for team members to earn bonuses or additional PTO days.
  • Lunch time activities such as yoga, meditation and stress management.
  • Some financial support for those who want to go to University or graduate school.

Companies who stay in touch with the needs of their team members are more likely to have loyal and productive employees.  These are the things that success is made of.

I would love to hear how your company addresses the issue of motivation.  Please email me your ideas at alicia@somametrics.com.  I will compile these and to share in a future post.

The Best Coaching Session

The best coaching session that my team had was when I was the Director of Inside Sales at an educational software company.  One day, out of the blue, the CEO called me to ask if he could “coach” 4 of my Inside Sales team members.  He wanted me to select two top producers and two under-performing team members.  His plan was to spend 1 hour with each Rep.

He did 3 things that made for a great learning experience for my team and a lasting impression for me, as a manager.

  1. Lead by example.  The CEO started each of the sessions by making phone calls.  He wanted each team member to see how he approached a first call with decision makers.  He didn’t let any of the prospects know that he was the CEO.  He made several calls, while the Inside Rep took notes.  After the first few calls, the Inside Rep was given the opportunity to make calls.  Back and forth this process went, for the entire hour.
  2. Have a goal for your session.  The goal for each team member and the CEO was to generate a meeting/ further conversation with the prospect to uncover need and interest.  The CEO threw down the gauntlet.  Who would get the most meetings, during the hour coaching session?  The CEO beat only 1 team member.
  3. Make it “win-win”.  The purpose of the coaching session was to give the CEO a better understanding of the challenges that the Inside team faced, every day.  He also provided team members with insights on how they might improve their messaging and responses to questions. At the end of the coaching period, the CEO came to my office and told me that he learned a lot:
    1. He didn’t realize how difficult it was to get to decision makers on the phone and the number of dials it took to do so.
    2. The team was far more advanced and knowledgeable than he had imagined.
    3. The energy and spirit of the team was very positive and supportive.
    4. He thoroughly enjoyed the session and if time permitted, he would come back.

I asked the team members how they felt about the session.  Hands down – everyone loved it.  While, initially they were nervous, by the end they felt like they had learned from the top sales guy at the company.  They also felt appreciated and understood.

Coaching sessions should be about improving performance and upping the game.  They should motivate and thrill team members.  Establish the goal of the coaching session, lead the team by example and plan to be amazed by your team.  This will be a “win-win” process for everyone involved.

The Perfect Compensation Plan

predictable revenue growth

Driving Sales Funnel growth, meeting revenue objectives, and getting sales teams to meet or exceed sales metrics are among the many challenges faced by our clients. Quite often, these problems are self-inflicted. Large salaries and commissions provide little incentive for sales teams to achieve the metrics that drive Sales Funnel and revenue growth.

In order to meet your targets, you need to introduce a compensation plan that encourages the appropriate behavior and provides the right incentives for your team to work towards their goal. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are the activities that drive Sales Funnel and revenue growth.  KPIs that fail to be established or met, will result in a loss for your target revenue. Example KPIs for Inside Sales might include:

  • Key conversations with prospects that establish pain & fit. Without frequent conversations with prospects, there will not be enough activity to grow the sales funnel.
  • A Sales funnel that is in excess of 3X the revenue objective.  We suggest that clients analyze the sales funnel activity from the past 3-6 months to determine their closing ratios.  Some of our clients have only required a sales funnel of 1.5X their revenue objective, while others have needed a funnel of 5X, to ensure that their targets were met.
  • A pre-established number of demos.  We suggest that our clients determine the ratio of demo presentations to closed deals, to establish this metric.  One of our clients found that 75% of demo presentations generated closed deals.  For this specific client, demos were very important and became a top metric for their Inside Sales team.

What is the best way to ensure that team members meet or exceed their KPIs? Fifteen years of experience and association with over 100 companies, has led us to this answer. The answer: Build a compensation plan with three distinct components: Base Pay, Performance Bonus, and Commission.

Three Components of a Perfect Compensation Plan

  1. Base Pay: Companies with a high base salary often have poor performance within their sales teams. Base salary should accommodate a decent quality of life within said region. Base Salary should not be able to provide “luxury” items, keeping incentive for the team to meet their established KPIs.
  1. Performance Bonus: Compensation plans must provide a pay-for-performance component to encourage appropriate team behavior.

For example: if the monthly KPIs include a specific number of Key Conversations, Sales Funnel growth, and Demos, the representatives should receive a monthly performance bonus for meeting or exceeding these established KPIs. Performance bonuses work very well to ensure that KPIs are met.

  1. Commission: Commission should reflect the achievement of KPIs.

For example: suppose that 5% is the highest commission rate given at 100% of quota.  If a team member has met 100% of quota and 100% of their KPIs, they should receive the highest commission rate.  If not, the commission rate should reflect their achievement of quota and established KPIs.

Appropriate “Selling” behaviors develop when compensation plans are structured around KPIs and Sales Funnel growth.